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Deception Destroys Trust

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

My MLCer has said a few times that I will never be able to trust her again. How do I counter this statement?

I forgive you. Forgiveness is freely given. As for Trust, I will choose whether I will give you my Trust again or not based on your actions within each present context. Today's present context will be different than tomorrows; I do not trust you today. But you also need to come to a place where you can trust yourself; I have faith that someday you will be at that place.

The greatest damage is often a result of the deception and not adultery itself. Mistrust feeds on secrecy. To rebuild trust it is imperative that the relationship be open and honest. This is true even before rebuilding when an MLCer may be living with an alienator. Sweetheart was committing adultery and living with the alienator, but he did not deny his relationship with the alienator or lie about where he was living. This truthfulness amidst and about his betrayal made it easier to rebuild Trust when it came time. But he also spent a year in the middle of his MLC at home keeping his affair secret. That added a challenge to rebuilding Trust. Before that year he had failed to effectively hide his affair, choosing to flaunt-and-taunt instead. But I did well reassuring him in my Stand, so well that he wanted to remain married and yet he did not want to give up the alienator. It was then that he learned to maintain the deception and even now how do I know he is not still using those skills at deception and secrecy? Once his affair was public again, he returned to the flaunt-and-taunt behavior, but how do I know he could not start again in secret? I don't and that is where Trust and Faith integrate. Every relationship is vulnerable--even after reconciliation and many years of bliss; I am no longer blind to that fact.

Often an MLCer who complains that she will not be trusted again is seeking reassurance and indicating a desire to be trusted again. MLCers often know that they do not want to continue their life of escape and avoidance forever and they also may know that they want their spouse to be there for them when they are ready. Giving too much reassurance invites cake-eating, so be careful. But within the complaint is a buried admission and plea.

I know I am not trustworthy right now, but I want to be. Please trust me when I am worthy.
If you want me to trust you someday, be truthful with me now. Not so that I trust you now, you are not earning it. But by being honest about your present betrayals you will be laying a foundation even now.

Being honest and not secretive does not mean flaunting which is often a deliberate act of torture against the LBS. It means not lying about living arrangements or dating or about whom. It does not mean hearing details, just the basics. Did your MLCer go on vacation alone or with the alienator? Yes, knowing hurts; it is agony. But wondering can be worse. Knowing reduces or removes the urge to snoop and can facilitate Acceptance. Wondering makes denial easier. When I was 13 my Dad and I took our Dog Misty to the veterinarian to be put to sleep. Misty and I had never been apart. I was a basket case, screaming and clinging to her at the office. Understandably, the vet did not let us stay. I knew Misty died, but since I was not a witness to her death it was easier for me to fantasize that she escaped and was living happily with some new family. Almost 20 years later--again with my Dad--I took my Lhasa Apso, Endust, to be put to sleep; we had been together for 16 years. This time I held him and his death was visibly and physically real.

A person cannot convince anyone to trust them that they have grown, changed, ended the affair... by telling; showing is a requirement--this is true for both the LBS and MLCer. Showing takes time; more than the time it took for the loss of trust. A 3 month affair may cost a couple 18 months in reconciliation time. An MLC affair may last a few years and thus offering tidbits of Trust when earned can help your MLCer through. Refusing to deny their betrayals and pretend with your MLCer that everything is fine can help them be honest about their betrayal during it. Painful, yes, but can benefit rebuilding.

I'm Kenda-Ruth and I believe in marriage.
Are you tired of hearing...
  • Once a cheater always a cheater?
  • You're better off without him?
  • She doesn't deserve you?
  • I guess it just wasn't meant to last?
  • Divorce is no big deal?
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